George Washington Morgan

George Washington Morgan was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, September 20, 1820. A born leader, he was a mercurial figure from his early youth. At the age of sixteen he deserted a college career to espouse the cause of Texas independence and was appointed an officer in the Texas army by Sam Houston. He entered the U. S. Army Military Academy in the class of 1845, but withdrew because of scholastic difficulties in his third-class year. Thereafter he studied law and became prosecutor of Knox County, Ohio. In 1846 he was elected colonel of the 2nd Ohio Volunteers for the Mexican War (he was only twenty-six years old at the time). He commanded the regiment under Zachary Taylor until March 3, 1847, when he was commissioned colonel of the 15th U. S. Infantry. In this capacity, in the army under Winfield Scott, he was twice wounded and as of August 20, 1847, was brevetted brigadier general for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco—a promotion not equalled during that war by a man so young. Honorably discharged in 1848, he occupied the next thirteen years in farming and practicing law at Mount Vernon, Ohio, meanwhile serving as United States consul at Marseilles and minister to Portugal. Morgan resigned from the latter post in 1861 and on November 12 of that year was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers in the Federal army. His principal Civil War contribution was the expulsion of the Confederates from Cumberland Gap in 1862. He commanded a division under W. T. Sherman at Chickasaw Bayou and the XIII Corps at the capture of Arkansas Post, where he and Sherman, under John McClernand's orders, each commanded a corps. Friction between the two, which had developed when Sherman found fault with Morgan's handling of his division during the assault on the bluffs at Chickasaw, continued; and prior to the surrender of Vicksburg, Morgan, who was no abolitionist nor believer in Negro equality, became dissatisfied with the employment of Negro troops and tendered his resignation. He supported George B. McClellan in the Presidential election of 1864 and was defeated for governor of Ohio in 1865, but in the years following the war was elected to Congress three times on the Democratic ticket. As a Congressman, he was a vigorous opponent of radical Reconstruction measures. General Morgan died at Fort Monroe, Virginia, July 26, 1893, and was buried in Mount Vernon.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.